Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
rob.smith255

What is comparative politicis?

Recommended Posts

Hi! As you can clearly see i am a noob in the poli sci area. I am an economics undergrad planning to do grad study in political science. I was looking through various online resources but still could not be absolutely clear on what comparative politics means. Accrording to wikipedia "Comparative politics is a subfield of political science, characterized by an empirical approach based on the comparative method. Arend Lijphart argues that comparative politics does not have a substantive focus in itself, but rather a methodological one: it focuses on "the how but does not specify the what of the analysis."" So would it be correct to say that it is like quantitative methods? But folks in this forum have mentioned those two as being separate entities. Some help would be really appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So would it be correct to say that it is like quantitative methods?

No, it definitely wouldn't. While there is of course a lot of large-n studies in comp politics, research is also very often of a more qualitative nature.

If there is any kind of quasi-consensus about an approach to comparative politics, it's that if you want to be hired, you will have to go out and do some kind of field work. I found this thread on the topic quite entertaining: http://www.poliscijobrumors.com/topic.php?id=8309

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow the OP should really reconsider if he/she wants to spend the next 5/6 years of her life studying something he/she knows NOTHING about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow the OP should really reconsider if he/she wants to spend the next 5/6 years of her life studying something he/she knows NOTHING about.

thats the point of this thread...im trying to figure out what all the stuff means and how they match my interest...i KNOW my interest therez no confusion bout that ... im just trying to figure what what matches my interest best...and since im only applying next year, i have plenty of time to do that :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the OP is on his time and should go after it if that's what he wants. I was in a similar spot one year ago (when I wrote "Is it a caveat that I have never had strong training in polisci? I mean, I had one or to[sic] courses, but can't say much about the field beyond educated common-sense"), and now I've been accepted at my top-choice. There were some mistakes along the way, mostly concerned with my GRE verbal and SoP, which I neglected.

By the way, I've learned a lot with this book: http://www.amazon.com/Political-Science ... 971&sr=8-4

And this forum, too.

Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK... As a lowly third year PoliSci/IR undergrad here's my explanation of comparative politics.

By and large, comparative politics takes more than one case and compares it with others to try and determine some sort of relationship. I'll take the example of democratic consolidation because it probably lends itself to the clearest definition (it's also how I cut my teeth in comparative).

You want to find out what factors are important in a new democracy taking hold and becoming consolidated. You could either compare the country with similar countries where democratisation has occurred or with very different countries. The choice of whether to do this is personal preference and each has pros and cons - the choices can be described as SS (same-same) or SD (similar-different). How many countries you choose determines methodology (quantitiative vs qualitative) as you obviously can't compare 180 countries in-depth, but you couldn't get much information from comparing shallow statistical analysis of only two countries.

You then move on to how you plan on comparing them - across a broad period of time or at a specific period of time (snapshot or longitudinal), by specific factors (economic system, strength of military, indicators of civil society etc.) and how you plan to determine whether various conditions are met.

The end goal is to prove/disprove the importance of various factors by 'comparing' different cases. That's simplistic as hell, and I'm sure will be ridiculed widely, but that's the jist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK... As a lowly third year PoliSci/IR undergrad here's my explanation of comparative politics.

By and large, comparative politics takes more than one case and compares it with others to try and determine some sort of relationship. I'll take the example of democratic consolidation because it probably lends itself to the clearest definition (it's also how I cut my teeth in comparative).

You want to find out what factors are important in a new democracy taking hold and becoming consolidated. You could either compare the country with similar countries where democratisation has occurred or with very different countries. The choice of whether to do this is personal preference and each has pros and cons - the choices can be described as SS (same-same) or SD (similar-different). How many countries you choose determines methodology (quantitiative vs qualitative) as you obviously can't compare 180 countries in-depth, but you couldn't get much information from comparing shallow statistical analysis of only two countries.

You then move on to how you plan on comparing them - across a broad period of time or at a specific period of time (snapshot or longitudinal), by specific factors (economic system, strength of military, indicators of civil society etc.) and how you plan to determine whether various conditions are met.

The end goal is to prove/disprove the importance of various factors by 'comparing' different cases. That's simplistic as hell, and I'm sure will be ridiculed widely, but that's the jist.

I think that's a perfect explanation. Scientists basically just study phenomenon by comparing them across different (or similar) variables. For example, a comparativist will study race relations in Brazil, the United States, South Africa, and the Phillipines to get a better scope of what truly motivates/dictates it. Instead of making assumptions about human nature by studying one country, you would study many countries of different characteristics to examine and capture some sort of theme. Many study themes across time, region, class, etc. as well.

Personally, I believe that unless we study comparatively, we don't really get an adequate view of what's going on. So really, comparative politics is somewhat of a methodology, or way of studying, but its not like quantitative or qualitative methods, and it can encompass any other of the common fields (american, IR, area studies, etc.) and tends to overlap them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.